Peter: What goes through your head an hour before a production goes live in front of 200 million viewers?
Ola: In year 2000 when I did my first Eurovision Song Contest you would have found me pale and cold sweating in my office. Last spring when we did the same thing in Oslo I sat out outside in the sun having a cup of coffee with my crew. When it was time we just walked into the control room and delivered a great show (see YouTube clip below). Sure I’m charged up but I’m not really nervous because I know we are well prepared and ready to deal with any surprises. In these projects there is a plan B for everything and once we are on air there is not a lot I can do if something goes wrong. At that point it’s in the hands of my crew.
Peter: Are there any moments that are especially memorable, for good or worse?
Ola: Every event is unique and so many things happen but I’ve never been close to a situation where something goes totally wrong. We did have a big problem this year in India, when less than a week before the Commonwealth Games opening, we got a 330 volt electrical spike into our system that ruined half of our lighting rig. We lost 600 very expensive lamps in 1 second and it ended up costing the generator company 700,000 Euros to fix it. It was hell to get back on track with the preparations but at the end of the day we made it. This event and the 2009 Eurovision final in Moscow are definitely two of my favorite shows so far. Also, nothing beats the feeling of seeing my name in the credits after my first Eurovision final in Stockholm. That was my breakthrough in the large event league.
Peter: Is there a particular artist you would like to work with?
Ola: One of my dreams is to produce the show for Tina Turner who I think is just a great performer. Another favorite is the German band Rammstein who I know is a great group to work with.
Peter: What’s your connection to Texas?
Ola: Through my wife Joan we have close ties to Austin both with family and professionally. We are partners in our company M&M Productions and we often work together on the projects. In addition she also does a lot of marketing for some of the many professional lighting and sound equipment companies that are based here in Texas. A lot of people who work in our industry also call Austin home so it’s a natural place for us to have our US base. We set up our US office here four years ago and aim to spend about 30% of our time here.
Peter: So what are your plans for the future?
Ola: Well, we will continue to do large events around the world which will occupy a lot of my and Joan’s time. Business in the US has been slow during the last few years but I hope we can do more projects here when things get moving again. I would like to do more work for Swedish companies in the US since I know how to get hold of the best resources and to very good rates compared to if they shop around themselves from overseas. It’s very easy to end up paying more than you should here if you don’t know the market inside and out. Another idea that has been brewing in my mind is to do something great around Swedish music here in Austin. Perhaps we can do something within SACC Texas to develop that idea further?
Peter: What is the first thing you do when you come home to Austin?
Ola: As soon as I land I go to the store and buy a good piece of steak, some jalapenos and a bottle of red. Nothing beats enjoying some good Texas food in the sun by the pool.
Peter: Also, as a last question…..would you mind helping us produce the next SACC Texas Christmas Party?
Ola: Absolutely, when can I start?